By Katie Ellington, Staff Writer
The music department is growing. The once tiny department now includes nearly fifty major students, seven full-time faculty members and eighteen adjunct faculty, according to Asbury’s website. While the music department’s adjunct professors are extraordinary performers and instructors, many students say the department could use another full-time faculty member. Despite the department’s growth over the last couple of years, there is not a full-time voice teacher.
“We need a full-time voice teacher,” said Dr. Jill Campbell, assistant professor of music education. In addition to teaching music courses and directing the Asbury Women’s Choir, Campbell coordinates the vocal courses. “We have so many students that are taking voice lessons…. We need more people to be here full-time in order to provide more opportunities.”
Most of the vocal courses and coaching are taught by adjunct instructors Shareese Arnold, Marie-France Duclos, Michael Preacely and Kathrin Thawley. These four staff members boast impressive credentials in opera, solo and sacred music performance. Arnold, Duclos and Preacely are currently pursuing Ph.D.’s in vocal performance at the University of Kentucky. Having teachers with specialized experience provides unique educational opportunities for students.
“We get a lot of new professors who offer different experiences and perspectives on learning,” said junior Kylie Nabers, a music major with a vocal performance emphasis. “Not only are they incredible assets to the music department and Asbury, but they serve as examples and inspiration to everyone around them as people who have dedicated their lives and crafts to God.”
“I think the pro of having adjunct faculty is that they are usually involved in other schools, so they bring fresh ideas and thoughts to our campus,” said junior David Keener, a double major in worship arts and music.
While the adjunct voice professors bring a wealth of experience, students say there are disadvantages to having part-time professors.
“Our teachers aren’t here all week, so if we have an important question about one of our pieces, we have to either shoot them an email or wait until a lesson, which diminishes outside practice time,” said senior Adam Rousey, a music major with an emphasis in composition. “I know I’m not the best at singing, so having someone to help guide is crucial to my growth. I feel that growth is stunted by [the] lack [of] a consistent, day-to-day presence of a voice teacher.”
Adjunct professors typically only stay for a few years, and fluctuations in staff can have a negative effect on students.
“It is difficult to maintain a consistent adjunct staff. The pay and benefits aren’t as good as the ones full time professors receive,” said Nabers. “The switch means that the student has to relearn how to learn and communicate with someone new…. It kind of sets you back.”
Senior Caroline Clements agreed. She has worked with five different vocal coaches during her time at Asbury.
“I love getting exposed to many different teaching styles, but it is also so important to have some stability as a student grows vocally,” she said.
Students like Nabers, Clements and Rousey believe the music department should hire a full-time vocal instructor. Others, like Keener, say they would miss the variety an adjunct-heavy department offers.
“I’m not exactly sure if Asbury should hire a full-time voice professor,” he said. “I think the diversity of having multiple voice teachers is good because some students work better with certain teachers than others.”